RIO is still a relatively new artist, though by listening to her music you wouldn’t gather it. The three tracks on Fishtank are all expertly crafted, with her effortlessly lovely voice blending perfectly with her ambient and acoustic classically indie instrumentals.
Her first track, “The Rose Song,” opens softly, with a reverb-laden piano that gives it almost an underwater vibe. This song sets the tone for the EP, as well as establishing some of the hallmarks of RIO’s work: ambient soundscapes combined with soothing, low-toned vocals.
Each of the tracks reminisces upon a love lost, and even without paying attention to the lyrics the melancholy atmosphere is conveyed beautifully. Her use of certain filters and ambient sounds also give certain parts of this song, and the others, the haziness of a well-worn memory. Of the three, this track is the shortest and most minimal in terms of instrumentals.
Moving to track two, “New Boots” begins with the sound of a television flipping between channels, grainy and staticky, until seemingly we land on the beginning of the track. Although the guitar doesn’t remain staticky in sound once it’s joined by RIO’s voice, the transition is one I find very interesting.
This song is a more straightforward breakup song, with very mild bluesy elements coming through in the chorus. Listeners can also experience more of RIO’s vocal range, although she keeps it relatively subdued throughout the whole EP. The song speaks more to longing and regret than the first, but the two are linked by their melancholy and reminiscent atmospheres.
Finally, “Our Film” features the sound of an old-school film reel and birdsong, both of which lend to a more vintage sound. This track is still somewhat subdued and melancholy, but certain elements brighten up the soundscape as a whole, and the atmosphere has a more dreamlike quality. Where the past two tracks seeed to be lamenting the end of the relationship, this track retains a sweetness, as though it’s more of a fond memory now than a painful one.
Unfortunately, this track doesn’t have a lyric video like the other two, so it’s difficult for me to dissect as thoroughly, but given how gifted RIO is with crafting soundscapes that convey emotion I feel confident in my suppositions.
If you’re looking for a new artist whose music can soothe you, I would highly suggest giving RIO a listen. Her voice is effortlessly smooth and soothing, and she seems to have a wonderful understanding of her own abilities and plays well to her own strengths.